Mark Coles is back as head coach of the Pakistan women’s team, and will join the squad on their ongoing tour of Australia. The New Zealander takes over the responsibility from interim head coach Saleem Jaffar, who was originally working as the team’s bowling coach with fellow former Pakistan men’s international Taufeeq Umar as batting coach.
The PCB, under a new management committee headed by Najam Sethi, has roped Coles in on a one-year contract. He previously served as head coach from 2017 to 2019, when he resigned from the role citing family commitments.
“I have worked with Mark and he is a perfect coach for a women’s team – gentle but firm, friendly but strict,” Sethi, told ESPNcricinfo. “He is a well-respected coach and in his previous stint with Pakistan he worked incredibly hard for the team’s progress. Players only had good words to say about him, hence we have decided to bring him back and he will be joining the team in Australia with immediate effect.”
The PCB has been functioning under Sethi ever since the government removed ex-chair Ramiz Raja and his board by revoking the 2019 constitution the PCB was operating under and giving the Sethi-led 14-member committee full executive powers to work on reviving the constitution of 2014.
Pakistan are presently in Australia for a series of three ODIs starting January 16, which are part of the 2022-25 Women’s Championship. It will be followed by a series of three T20Is, following which the team will travel to South Africa for the Women’s T20 World Cup – where Pakistan are in Group 2 along with England, India, Ireland and West Indies. Pakistan play their opening game against India on February 12 in Cape Town. Pakistan have never gone past the group stage of the T20 World Cup; in the 2020 edition, they won only one game, against West Indies, and lost to England and South Africa; their fixture against Thailand was washed out.
Coles was first appointed in 2017, on a trial basis, ahead of a series against New Zealand in the UAE, as part of the PCB’s efforts to revamp women’s cricket and bring in a professional structure. Until then, the PCB had brought in coaches on a series-by-series basis and had even gone into their previous 50-over World Cup, earlier that year, with Sabih Azhar only a few weeks into his job. Coles was offered a long-term contract but Sethi resigned in 2018, and a year later Coles resigned to focus on his family responsibilities.
Months later he joined the Japan Cricket Association as a high-performance manager in 2020, and he has since worked with the Vanuatu Cricket Association and been a high-performance manager with the women’s teams of Western Australia and Wellington. He won a domestic T20 title in 2013 with Wellington Blaze. His last coaching job was with the Scotland women’s team, from February 2021 to February 2022.
In his term with Pakistan, Coles led the women’s team to seven wins in 16 ODIs, including a first-ever series victory over West Indies in 2019, and 12 wins in 30 T20Is. Between Coles’ resignation and return, the core of the team hasn’t changed drastically, with captain Bismah Maroof set to welcome back her former coach.
Pakistan have already named their squads for the Australia tour and the Women World Cup, with fast bowler Diana Baig leading Pakistan’s bowling pack in both ODIs and T20Is. Left-arm spinner Sadia Iqbal, who emerged during Coles’ previous term, has developed to become an automatic choice in both formats. Pakistan reached the semi-finals of the T20 Asia Cup in Bangladesh this October, and beat their arch-rivals India in a thriller after they lost to Thailand earlier in the tournament.